Moments & Misadventures :: Rio From the Bottom to the Top


A cool morning dawned upon Rio de Janeiro and I looked out from our hotel window onto the beautiful Copacabana Beach. It was August which meant Brazil’s wintertime, which felt like springtime in the states so the weather was perfect for exploring this beautiful city. The beach was quite peaceful with only a few beach goers walking along the sand. I loved the black and white curvy pattern of the sidewalk below.

view of Copacabana Beach from our hotel

Our first destination was to Pão de Açúcar, or Sugar Loaf Mountain. This peak is featured in every picture of Rio as is just about as popular as the Christ statue. The name comes from a similar shaped canister that was used in the 16th century by Portuguese farmers to transport sugar. To reach the peak you take a series of cable cars up the side of the mountain. We got into the first cable car and made the decent up to the first landing.

We reached the first landing and enjoyed the views of city and the view of Sugar Loaf itself from this vantage point. There were a number of small monkeys running around, clearly use to all the humans there and even a little anticipatory of receiving some food from them. They had one of the original cable cars that were first used to get visitors up to the mountain and a statue of Augusto Ferreira Ramos who first thought of this path through the air.

Next we boarded the next cable car which would take us all the way to the top. This peak is part of a UNESCO world heritage site along with other parts of the city. We made the slow climb up through the clouds marveling at the incredible views of Rio below.

view of Christ statue from Sugar Loaf

After descending back down to sea level we then headed for lunch and a lovely walk through Jardim Botânico, or Botanical Garden. This garden displays over 6500 different varieties of flora from around the world. No matter what climate it may be from, it thrives here in Rio.

Botanical Garden

Later that evening we followed the curvy sidewalk around the bay to the farthest point. We passed some incredible sand art on the beach. We came around the bend of the bay to Fort Copacabana. This base serves as the coastal defense of the city and is also home to the Army Historical Museum. The base is open to the public and offers visitors a whole different view of Rio.

We had dinner at a small cafe there on the base and were thrilled to see the sky darken to night and to see the city all lit up from the other side of the bay.

view of Rio from Fort Copacabana

The next day took us skyward once again. This time to get up close and personal with Cristo Redentor. We made our way to the bottom of Corcovado Mountain and bought our train tickets that would take us almost to the feet of the statue. The train circles it’s way around the mountain with seats that face to the front and to the back so that wherever you decide to sit you can get a good view of the mountain. We reached the top and joined the throng of people that were already there. It doesn’t matter what day or time you decide to visit here because it will be always be busy and it’s no wonder with such incredible views of Rio de Janeiro everywhere you look. We were surrounded by people of every nation and language, vying for a spot to take our picture with the statue. A man from Norway told my friend Eric that if he stood at a certain spot, that we could catch the reflection of the statue in his sunglasses. You have to get a pretty fair way back from the statue to look up at it without falling over. But this statue has stood watch over Rio for a hundred years with a gesture of gathering the city to him. And to stand there looking up at the statue then looking out over the city was an incredible experience.

Whenever someone thinks of Brazil, usually the first thought to come to mind is the Cristo Redentor statue standing over sweeping views of the city beneath. This statue is the iconic place for the entire country and all visitors who make their way here. Built in 1922 this statue shows all the beauty of the art deco period and representative of the country’s strong belief in Christian values. While this is such a small point in the massive country of Brazil, it is one that is instantly recognizable and desirable to see for so many people all over the world. No matter what a person’s religious beliefs are, you can’t come to Rio and not make the journey to Corcovado Mountain to stand at the feet of Cristo Redentor.

We drove through other parts of the city for the rest of the day. Rio is somewhere that you have to be careful where you go as the higher into the city you go the more dangerous it is. Most taxi drivers will not take you past a certain part of the city. But we found some great local places to eat and loved seeing some of the beautiful architecture of the city. We had only spent a couple of days here in Rio but already I could understand why this city draws so many people from all over the world. We got to see Rio from the bottom of the city center and then from the top as we looked out over the whole area. From any angle, this city is absolutely stunning and I was so glad to be part of it for a time.

12 thoughts on “Moments & Misadventures :: Rio From the Bottom to the Top

    1. Thank you Marion 🙂 I think Rio is such a beautiful place and the Brazilian people are just so warm and welcoming. I hope you get to visit Brazil one day because I think you would really love it there.

    1. Thank you! I really love Brazil, and especially Rio- the people are lovely, the food is fantastic, and the views are stunning. I think you would really love it there 🙂 I hope you have a great week!

  1. We’d absolutely love to do exactly what you’ve described in this post. Rio, and Brazil, and Buenos Aires come to that, were due to be our third trip when we retired…but you know what happened. We still intend getting there and this post just reinforces it.

    1. Buenos Aires is definitely on my list! The next time I go to Brazil I want to start in Brazil, stop at Iguazu Falls, and then carry on down to Buenos Aires. I think you will really love Brazil when you get there- the food is fantastic and the people are so lovely. Here’s hoping your travels take you to South America soon 🙂

  2. Ah Rio, how we would love to go to Brazil one day. Heck, I think we have to do at least a year in South America at some point in our lives. So much iconic stuff within your article, especially Copacabana Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ statue. I hadn’t been familiar with Augusto Ferreira Ramos, so thanks for including him in your Rio story.

    1. oh that is a travel plan I would love to have is spending a month in South America! I think next summer’s travels will include Brazil to see my friends but then there has been a great debate on where else we would want to see while we are down there. I’m just going to tell Brad that the only solution is to spend the entire summer there seeing everywhere. Problem solved! 🙂

  3. I was going to ask if you could hike to either spot (the cable car mountain or the statue) but boy are they on some steep rock! I think you actually can hike to the Christ statue, but if I’m right, I’m sure it’s not easy.

    1. I think there are hiking trails to both places. The hike to Sugar Loaf involves a lot of rock climbing. Going up the cable cars you can see a lot of people scaling the rocks below. I think the hike up to the Christ statue is strenuous but much more doable. Next time I go to Brazil, I would love to do the hike up to the statue.

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